Feels good to be back online! They say home is where love is, but now in Cameroon, home is where internet is ;). Still I had the most fulfilling week in a long while after spending time with small scale farmers in Efah, Batibo working on rapid multiplication of plantain. Amidst all going on around them, farmers in this village are questing for knowledge to empower themselves and better their lives. We arrived a little early for the training and decided to take a stroll around the village. Although it’s the usual market day, places look a little scanty for a market day. All you see are a few shops selling palm wine, some yams on display and a few bunches of banana. Although plantain attracts better prices than banana, and almost everyone in the village grows banana, one will wonder why they still bring banana to the market with no plantain in sight. When asked why, people around say there isn’t much to sell and those who buy the banana do so to feed their pigs.
Recently, The Pollination Project awarded Green Farmlands the #seedthechange grant to address the express need of smale scale farmers with the challenge they face with plantain in Efah village. Although banana and plantain belong to the Musaceae family, banana blooms in this area while plantain never reaches maturity; either their roots never grow into the soil or the stem rots. Franklin found this strange; Contrary to belief that the land is cursed and plantain can’t do well, he agrees although banana is more resistant to pest and disease than plantain everything being equal, plantain should thrive just as well as banana in this region. As the farmers took turns in explaining their frustrating experiences with plantain cultivation, he pointed out what they didn’t do right with their plantains.
Thanks to the grant, we began the 1st phase of the rapid multiplication of plantain in a propagator which involved training the farmers on how to construct and treat a propagator, selecting and preparing a base plant and also how to place the base plant in a propagator. Vegetative propagation is a form of asexual reproduction in plants. According to Frank, if all conditions are respected, a sucker can produce up to 60 plantlets within a period of 3 months. The number of plantlets derived from the sucker is determined largely by the size of the sucker. The training lasted for 3 days with and impressive turnout and engagement from the farmers. It was encouraging to hear the farmers explain how they cultivate plantains and agree to all the mistakes they have been making which could be possible reason to why plantain hasn’t been doing well. From their participation, you could tell they are ready to do what it takes to correct their mistakes and make their lives better. Although this method isn’t new, it a completely new technology to the farmers in this area and most of the North West region. Their willingness to learn and adopt new and improved techniques made it more interesting.
To have plantains ready for the market, the activity takes place in 3 phases: Phase 1 being what we just finished, Phase 2 which involves 1st scarification to produce more plantlets and takes place after 21 days of being in the propagator and Phase 3 which involves transfer of plantlets to a nursery in plastic bags and takes places from 14 days after 1st scarification. Now that we are done with phase 1, we look forward to phase 2. Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter to stay up to date till our plantains reach the market!
Frank is an agric technician and Chief of Agric Post Tole. With over 5 years of experience, he has carried out countless successful training with farmers on vegetative propagation of plantains and banana in the South West Region. He is also a certified GTZ trainer for good farm practices and healthy nutrition Buea. He is a graduate from the Regional College of Agriculture Bambili and a Principal Agric Technician from the University of Dschang.
Atim is an enthusiastic African woman and a development fanatic. In 2012, she was recognized amongst 28 Africa’s under 25 women impacting change within their community by the Moremi Initiative. Based on her 4 years work experience with AGRO-HUB which she co-founded in 2011, she took a Masters in Supply Chain in 2014 and graduated in June 2016. She currently works as the Project Coordinator for Green Farmlands, an initiative she founded in 2015 driven by her passion for community development a career path she has been pursuing since 2011.